Never forget the labours of yore
IN this day and age there is so much taken for granted; almost every aspect of our daily lives governed by gadgets of one description or another to make life easier to handle.
Advances in science and technology during the past 100 years have made sure that on the whole we lead a more sedentary existence, with the computer becoming the focal point for information technology, a helping hand in work, rest and play.
But we must never lose sight of the labours of yore, and the men and women who worked in industry, forging a legacy and laying down the foundations of hard work for generations to follow.
Statistics can tell a story all of their own and the following are taken from a survey that was carried out for the Black Country and Birmingham just after the Second World War and include figures from 1931. Unfortunately the statistics don’t allow the numbers to be specific to the Black Country. The heavy industry of iron and steel, including blast furnaces, smelting and rolling mills, accounted for 15,367 workers; tube manufacture in iron and steel, 16,141; bolts, nuts, rivets, screws, nails, etc., 18,609; foundry and secondary processes, 21,372; other metal industries, 97,246; motor vehicles, cycles and aircraft, 48,915; non-ferrous metals - extracting and refining, 14,846; nonferrous metals - processes and wares, 19,486; rubber manufactures, 10,380; saddlery, harness and other leather goods, 6,930; bricks, unglazed tiles and fireclay goods, etc., 7,675; glass (not bottles) 6,448.
The Black Country’s history is based on its traditional industries and with the exception of coal mining which had reached its peak production mid way through the 19th century, the big guns, so to speak, are all accounted for in this survey.
But now the factory sites have all gone, replaced by modern housing developments, and the sounds of the drop forge hammer and the ‘bull’, summoning thousands of workers to their labours on the factory floor, have fallen silent.
Shackle smithy circa 1900
A Coseley Coronation souvenir proudly displaying local industry